Working as a Data Analyst with YERC did more than just expand on the skills
Maggi learned at Montana State University. Beyond performing geospatial analyses on large
datasets, supervising field crews to accurately—and safely—collect data in the wilds of
Yellowstone's backcountry, and writing grants to help keep these projects going, Maggi
also learned more about her own future and what she wanted to do with it. Exposure to the
successes—and challenges—YERC had in the three years she worked here gave Maggi ideas
about the oncoming needs of ecology and conservation as well as what she could do about
"In my work at YERC I often noted the importance of modeling and programming various scenarios in environmental sciences," Maggi said. "It is an essential tool for management and research."
The ability to harness the power of mathematically complex models and largescale datasets to predict the impacts of climate change, recreation, and growing populations is a vital skill for resource managers, Maggi said.
"Using environmental data and programming, a researcher could create a model demonstrating potential impacts on a water system or estimate the trend of a species," she said.
As a result, one goal in her continuing graduate education has been to gain a better understanding of these impacts and the complex models that can give us the potential to prepare for them. Maggi is now beginning her second year as a master's student at Utah State University, studying the landscape scale effects of climate change on ecosystem restoration. The model she is working on takes into consideration both ecological and economic factors to identify in-steam barriers warranting removal to improve aquatic habitats.
"This approach is novel in that it includes economic water use and quality habitat as dual objectives to prioritize barrier removal," she said.
And even though Maggi's career has for now taken her away from YERC and Yellowstone, the personal experiences she acquired here will always stay with her. She recalled one survey of a riparian vegetation plot, "when all of a sudden we heard a deep grunting noise coming from the dense bushes. We ran as fast as we could out of the willows, quickly turning around with bear spray in hand. There was nothing coming at us."
A little while later, Maggi returned with two partners to quickly retrieve the backpacks and equipment left behind in their sudden departure, and then "skipped that plot."
At least there are no bison in Utah's Weber River basin where Maggi is currently working.